“Love is blind, and marriage is an eye-opener.” So goes the old saying. But what is love? To many, the word itself is exciting. Love is pure, positive emotion. Love is a force to be experienced. Love is uncontrollable, thrilling bliss!
Others, particularly those in university settings, would say that such bright ideas are naïve. After all, power is what motivates all of our decisions. Selfishness, then, is a better approximation of what love is. Love is an expression of power, an exercise in self-interest.
Still others would say that simply equating love with power is too deliberate, especially since love is such an evocative topic. We simply don’t go about acquiring everything we desire; rather, desires sometimes “come over us.”
We might even say that desire acquires us. We begin to feel that we must have or do or be something. And then we say that we “love” that thing. We “need” it. Surely, our consumerist culture has turned the Beatles’ song around. They sang, “All you need is love,” but we know that all we love is need. If we love something, then we need it. And so, love becomes something far different from exciting.
In fact, love can become habit, something that we have become accustomed to and regularly require. Ultimately, love becomes something that we take for granted.
The more elevated souls among us, though, say that love is not nearly as self-interested as all this. They insist love actually is concern for others. Morrie Schwartz, whose struggle with Lou Gehrig’s disease is chronicled in Mitch Albom’s best-selling book, “Tuesdays with Morrie,” said, “Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own.”
The more cynical souls hear this and respond that such “love” simply is dependence, that when you investigate the claims people have made to “love” each other, what you find is some service that two individuals provide one another, whether that is esteem, laundry, money, compassion or companionship.
Then there are some who look at their experience of love and cannot recognize it in these cynical times. Love, they say, is admiration and delight. It is not so much depending on someone else as it is losing yourself in someone you care about — forgetting about yourself for their good. It is the farthest thing in the world from being selfish.
Whatever else love may be, it certainly is treated these days as the supreme value in our culture. We effectively reverse what the Bible says about “God is love” by talking as if “love is God.” Call something “love,” and you have justified it beyond all questioning. No defense is needed. No explanation is required. “It’s love — can’t you see?”
So what, finally, is love? It is doing for others with no hope of getting anything in return. It is helping others with no desire to be repaid with a good deed. Love is giving, sharing, doing.
On Good Friday, March 29, the Homeless Coalition is having its walk for the homeless to show those in need that we care. Come and support those in need by walking for a good cause. For more information, call Jim McIntosh at 912-332-7659 or go to www.gfwliberty.org.
Harn is senior pastor of Victory Assembly of God and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.